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It’s fascinating how easily you can slip into another life. Here, it’s custom to greet people with a hug and a single kiss on the cheek. There are few stop signs, even at busy intersections, so it’s very important to look both ways before crossing. If you want to pay with a credit card, you usually have to show an ID to the cashier. Finally, you must tell the bus driver the cross section of the streets of your destination, so they can charge you the correct amount for the ride.
I’ve spent 2.5 days in Buenos Aires and I already have a wealth of little tricks to help me become a better Porteño. I’m living in a house with other international travelers, but everyone has their own schedule and routine, so it makes for a very independent experience. I forgot that I do not know how to cook at all; I’ve been eating out for every meal and have only managed to stock the fridge with some yogurt.
I feel very stealthy (and oddly empowered) slinking into different skins during my travels. No one knows me in this entire country and that anonymity is exciting. I can dine out alone every night, I can make a ton of new friends or I can make none, and it ultimately does not matter. There are no long term consequences to virtually any of my actions (within reason), so my existence is purely in the present moment. I may not have friends to do things with yet, but so what? If I want to take a walk near the ocean, or visit artisanal flea markets in the numerous plazas, or go on a hunt for the best iced coffee in my neighborhood, I can. It’s refreshing and fun to do things on my own time, without fear of judgement because no one knows me and no one cares.
I’ve likened parts of my gap year to friends and family to “jumping off a cliff.” In some ways, packing up all my things (again) starting over (again) in a new place (again) feels like a blind trust fall. I didn’t have my housing completely sorted out for Buenos Aires until 2 days before I up and left home. It’s incredibly intimidating to put yourself out there in a new country and hope for the best. But the experience, the ambiguous plunge into uncharted depths, is exhilarating and so. worth. it.
I’ve loved walking around Palermo, the neighborhood I’m currently living in, and seeing the vibrant murals on the buildings, the local clothing brands, the specialty panaderías, and adapting. It’s fun to people watch, try new foods, and practice my Spanish. I will begin my public policy internship with a local NGO fighting against human trafficking in a few days, but for now I’m enjoying the uncertain, timid inklings of new discoveries in a new place amidst a new beginning.